Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and festivities are well under way! Before you take out the margarita mix, sombreros, homemade guacamole and chips and salsa, there are some traditions and crucial facts that you should know to understand a little more about this immensely popular Mexican-American festivity.
For starters, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That would be September 16 and is the most important celebration in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo has been so greatly popularized by American media and advertisers that it inarguably surpasses the events that take place in Mexico. To Mexicans, the day is a nationalistic day that commemorates how a small Mexican Army was able to overtake the much more powerful and robust French military in 1862. Now that you know more about the history, here are some traditions followed to celebrate the historic day:
1. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that would be September 16). Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on May 5, 1862.
2. Cinco de Drink-o is more of an American cultural holiday than a Mexican one. In Mexico the only region that celebrates the historical event is Puebla itself.
3. The American celebrations of the Mexican holiday are said to have first taken place in California back in the 1860s, but it became a nationwide celebration in the 1940s and 1950s. It was popularized even more by American beer and wine advertisers in the eighties.
4. Nowadays, Cindo de Mayo in the United States is seen as a celebration of Mexican heritage where people drink tequila, eat tacos and listen to mariachis, but there is also a strong focus on Mexican history and culture.
5. In the United States, the date started to be considered a national holiday when President Franklin Roosevelt passed the Good Neighbor Policy in 1933 in an attempt to improve the United States' relations with neighboring Latin American countries.